Which Kia Optima Years to Avoid and Why? (Explained)

Kia Optima is a mid-size car for more comfortable riding than a sporty feel with high acceleration. It is a good family-friendly car with good space.

Kia Optima is a good dependable car that can run 200,000 miles if you maintain it with good care and service it regularly. It can even run 300,000 miles if the car does not face any injury and if you are lucky. 

However, if you buy the worst years of Optima, you cannot expect all of those good things. 

Kia Optima Years to Avoid (List of Years)

Kia is a good brand for great cars. However, there are some years of the Optima series that you should avoid. They have various problems ranging from engine to interior. Here is the list of the years that you should avoid.

  • 2011 Kia Optima: This model has engine and electric system failure, safety issues.
  • 2012 Kia Optima: High maintenance and repairing cost, steering problem, and bad interiors are main problems of 2012 Optima.
  • 2013 Kia Optima: Bad engine, steering problem are quite common in Optima 2013.
  • 2014 Kia Optima: Kia Optima 2014 faced blown engine and electric problem.
  • 2015 Kia Optima: Engine failing, fuel pump leaking, steering problem are the main issues of 2015 model.

Worst Years of Kia Optima

According to Carcomplaints, the 2011 Kia Optima is the worst model. Although, it has lesser complaints than the 2013 model, the issues regrading the 2011 is quite serious and costly to repair as most problems are related to the engine.

What Makes These Kia Optima Years Worth Avoiding?

Now you will learn exactly what year Optima had and what kind of problems you should avoid these years.

2011 Kia Optima Problems:

Kia Optima 2011 is among the worst years of this series. It has plenty of problems and that leads to excessive repair costs and other inconveniences. 

One of the biggest issues with this one is the engine failure. Most of the cars of this model faced similar issues and became quite common for optima in some later year models as well.

Engine repairing or replacing cost is quite high. Hence, the maintenance cost of Optima 2011 becomes expensive. 

There are also reports about the electric system failure along with the light fuse. Some people said that while driving on the road at night the lights went out and it was quite risky for them to drive. 

Due to several safety issues, this car was recalled 4 times which is a big concern for any Optima 2011 users.

The fuel economy of this model is poor and it makes it more costly to drive. Some users said that the steering is also bad in this model. With all these bad reports, it is wise to avoid this model.

2012 Kia Optima Problems:

Kia Optima 2012 did not make things any better than the previous 2011 model. This Optima has serious mechanical issues, which are compounded by costly ownership. For these reasons, customers should avoid purchasing the vehicle.

The major problem that most of the users faced is engine breakdown. This is quite frequent and repairing or changing the engine is very expensive. Between $2,500 to $4,000 is the typical engine repair cost, including labor and components. 

In most cases, the cost to repair an engine failure in the neighborhood is $5,300, but the cost to repair an engine failure that potentially results in a rebuild is roughly $4,600 on average.

Other than that, there is also a steering problem that people have been reporting and it started even in the new cars which are very unexpected.

The interior accessories going bad from time to time are also mentioned by many drivers. This model has high maintenance costs along with various major and minor issues.

2013 Kia Optima Problems:

The bad engine has been the main and worst problem of the Kia Optima series. The 2013 model inherited the same problem and an engine blown from only a few miles used is very common for this model.

In several cases, drivers have noticed engine banging and power failure while on the road. A little over half of the Optima owners had to upgrade the engines in their cars. The average distance at which it happened was 78,350 miles, and it frequently charged owners roughly $5,000 to fix.

The steering problem of the 2013 model is a risk for the driver. It also has body paint fading issues. It wears off quite early. Oil sludge inside the tank is another problem found in this car. This is one of the worst cars of this series.

2014 Kia Optima Problems:

Because of its major flaws, NHTSA has issued six recalls for the 2014 Kia Optima.

Many people have claimed that this model lacks a noise-cancellation system or a comfortable ride quality. As a result, maneuvering a vehicle might be fairly annoying.

In addition, drivers have reported that the electrical system in their vehicles regularly fails and does not operate effectively at all.

One of the top issues of this model is the engine blowing up. Stalling while driving is another engine-related problem that people faced. The steering is not smooth and hard to move sometimes. 

2015 Kia Optima Problems:

Kia has neglected the fact that the engine of the Optima series did not do better. The same engine problem was bugging the 2015 model again. It was such a letdown for people who expected something better from this new model after some consecutive failures.

The engine failed to start and even when it did the acceleration was quite low in this car. Some people also faced engine getting locked and not starting at all. 

The steering problem was another major issue for this model. The steering wheel sticks and could not move which is a safety concern. 

Fuel pump leaking was an unexpected new problem found in this model and it was the reason for a recall out of the 3 recalls by NHTSA.

It is in no way a good car for your daily drive and you should avoid it this year also.

Which Years are Safe to Buy Kia Optima?

The best years of Kia Optima are 2017-2019. All of these cars were splendid with almost no complaints.

2017 Kia Optima:

Kia Optima 2017 has an overall rating of 8.4 out of 10 which is quite promising. In terms of practicality, style, and value for the money, the 2017 Kia Optima is an exceptional sedan for families.

There are several ways to customize the inside and exterior features of the Optima, from a value-oriented sedan to a premium experience. It’s not a must-have because of a few issues. 

It has a good engine, unlike the previous versions that can work all good. This Optima is definitely a good buy for you.

2018 Kia Optima:

With excellent exterior and interior design and enough room for many passengers, the Optima 2018 is a nice family-friendly mid-size car. It has a 10 out of 10 safety score which will assure your safe driving. 

With other exclusive features on the engine, interior, and smooth driving Kia Optima 2018 is a great buy.

2019 Kia Optima:

If you look for a good rating the Kia Optima 2019 is for you. It scored 4.8 out of 5. At a low price, it can provide a wide range of technological features, a smooth drive, and top-notch performance all at once.

This one has a lot to offer, and you’ll discover it when you get behind the wheel and drive it. Dynamic safety features are included in this car and may be used at any time. You will love this car for sure.


Different car series have different problems in various years. Kia Optima is nothing exceptional. It has a fair share of bad years and also it provides some excellent cars. It is up to you to choose the best ones from its variety of models.

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